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Intersectionality in LGBT fiction: A comparison of a traditional library vendor and a nontraditional eBook platform

Heather Moulaison Sandy (iSchool, University of Missouri System, Columbia, Missouri, USA)
Beth M. Brendler (iSchool, University of Missouri System, Columbia, Missouri, USA)
Karen Kohn (Paley Library, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 8 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to evaluate characters and scenarios reflecting varied lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) identities in fiction in two library acquisitions platforms: a traditional library vendor (Coutts’ OASIS) and a freely available platform for self-published eBooks (Smashwords).


Using intersectionality as an approach, 200 LGBT fiction titles were examined in OASIS and in Smashwords with the goal of assessing the characters and scenarios represented. The hypothesis was that Smashwords’s titles, because they were self-published, would include more variety.


The titles in both platforms were roughly similar, with a pronounced focus on white gay males.

Research limitations/implications

This research relied on limited metadata provided in each system. Additional research should evaluate the quality of the titles and the nature of the publishers.

Practical implications

Although the Smashwords eBook platform provides access to eBooks, a convenient way to consume genre fiction, the titles available do not represent more diverse LGBT identities than the titles available through a traditional library vendor platform, OASIS.


As libraries struggle with practical implications for selecting materials representing varied viewpoints, the question of self-published or indie eBooks has emerged as a potential option for providing these perspectives. The findings of this study indicate, however, that instead of reflecting a more diverse readership, the sample of Smashwords LGBT fiction eBooks examined largely resembles the materials that a library vendor provides.



Moulaison Sandy, H., Brendler, B.M. and Kohn, K. (2017), "Intersectionality in LGBT fiction: A comparison of a traditional library vendor and a nontraditional eBook platform", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 73 No. 3, pp. 432-450.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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